Women behind silent agri revolution
International Women’s Day was observed throughout the world on March 8. The theme this year, set by the United Nations, is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” while another theme titled “Be bold for change” got popular in the social media.
Women are making significant contributions in different fields, alongside helping a silent revolution in the agriculture sector of Bangladesh. Through hard work mostly behind the curtain, they are contributing to the economic growth and sustainable development of the country. They have emerged as bold agents of change.
I have seen many success stories of women, an increasingly growing number of them are changing the lot of families. With perseverance, creativity and determination, women are gaining success and consequently, dignified positions.
Dear readers, women are the backbone of the development of rural and national economies. They comprise 43% of the world’s agricultural labour force, which is up to 70% in some countries. Although they have a great contribution in agriculture, 77 percent of rural women in Bangladesh are far from being empowered. It is imperative to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere. When women are empowered and can claim their rights to choice and access to land, leadership and opportunities, the economy grows, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations.
On the one hand, globalisation and technological and digital revolution have brought new opportunities for us.
On the other hand, there are issues arising out of shifts in labour pattern, unstable livelihoods and income, new fiscal and trade policies and environmental impacts, which must be addressed in the context of women’s economic empowerment.
There is no scope to undermine the contributions of agricultural entrepreneurs like Jessore’s Hamida Begum and Barison, Narsingdi’s Selina Jahan and Zaheda Begum, Joypurhat’s Rehana Begum and Rangamati’s Baby Chakma.
Being inspired by their success in promoting agriculture, many others have come forward, playing a significant role in ensuring food security.
A CSRL survey, based on sustainable development in rural livelihood, says, during the last decade, the number of women labourers in farming sector has increased to 8 million from 3.7 million — a tremendous rise of around 116%.
On the contrary, male labourers’ participation in the farming sector decreased by 10.4%.
At present, there are a total of 10.2 million women labourers who are directly contributing to the economic development of Bangladesh.
Of them, 77% are from the rural areas. They are playing a vital role in developing agriculture sector and ensuring food security while staying involved with farming, forestry, livestock rearing, poultry and fishery etc.
There is also the issue of climate change including irregular rainfall, floods, droughts and cyclones, whose effects have a greater impact on rural women and make their life difficult.
During a special interview, I talked with Nobel laureate economist Dr Amartya Sen on the rise of Bangladeshi women in the work field against many difficulties.
“The government as well as many NGOs have supported women’s causes while the political atmosphere of Bangladesh helped women’s empowerment. Women played a vital role in the 1971 Liberation War,” said Amartya Sen.
“My observation is that in the families where women’s voice is evaluated with importance, children are well fostered. This is proven all over the world.
“When a woman’s buying capacity increases, her decision is valued in the family,” he added.
With utmost respect for the women, who are becoming self-reliant, I would say that now it is the demand of the time to give due recognition to women workers and provide them reasonable wage. And the women entrepreneurs should be provided sufficient patronisation to go ahead with their initiatives.